Young guns to get a go

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Jor­dan Ger­rans

PORT Dou­glas Crocs coach Brad Cooper will bring a youth­ful fo­cus into his first year as North Queens­land coach with an eye to un­cov­er­ing a few hid­den gems at the higher level.

Cooper, a strong ad­vo­cate for rep­re­sen­ta­tive foot­ball dur­ing his play­ing days in Vic­to­ria and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, has been in­stalled to lead NQ against South Queens­land in July.

A month into the AFL Cairns sea­son, Cooper has been por­ing over vi­sion of other AFL Cairns games as well as speak­ing to coaches in Mackay and Townsville ahead of se­lect­ing the first ex­tended squad in the com­ing weeks.

The 2016 AFL Queens­land Se­nior Coach of the Year wants play­ers who are de­ter­mined to rep­re­sent the re­gion and fur­ther their foot­ball, not just the best play­ers, in the NQ squad.

“I have said to our play­ers at Port Dou­glas, it is the only time dur­ing the year you can step up a cou­ple of gears and play fi­nals type footy,” Cooper said.

“You can al­ways un­earth guys that thrive in the quicker, higher pres­sure and in­ten­sity en­vi­ron­ment and that is what we will try to do.

“We will not dis­crim­i­nate age wise, we will not just pick young blokes, but there will be a sprin­kling of them in there.

“I have seen in rep­re­sen­ta­tive footy be­fore, younger guys have gone up to that higher tempo, they have stepped up a level or two.

“Hope­fully, we can find a few like that.”

Cooper was an as­sis­tant to Rick Han­lon last year when SQ got the bet­ter of the hosts at Cazaly’s Sta­dium in the cur­tain-raiser to the AFL premier­ship match.

“The squad comes from Cairns, Mackay and Townsville, I will speak with all the coaches and get their take on things – from each area,” Cooper said.

“They know their play­ers bet­ter than I do.”

For­mer South Cairns coach Daniel Lock will be Cooper’s as­sis­tant with Townsville rep­re­sented by cur­rent Her­mit Park Tigers coach Jamie Fogg.

NQ take on South Queens­land in Cairns on July 22.

Pic­ture: BREN­DAN RADKE

In the frame for se­lec­tion is ex­pe­ri­enced hand Wes Glass

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